Archive | June, 2012

Sturm und Drang

30 Jun

The last two nights, we have had tremendous thunderstorms after dark.  The weather channel said that last night we had at least forty-five minutes of continuous thunder – most if, it seemed, centered directly over our house.

The Independence Day Parade is tomorrow – Sunday afternoon – and I had promised I’d be at the church from noon until 2:00, so I wandered in that direction around 11:30. The Squire and an another fellow from church were working on the lawn – endless job- and a young lady was also zipping around on the mower. When Rachel and I went inside to arrange costumes, we discovered there was no power, and it seems Joppatowne and the surrounding area have been “in the dark” since around midnight last night.

Our local grandson works for Baltimore Gas & Electric, so I imagine he’s out climbing poles. There’s a thankless task; everybody wants to be first, and seem to blame the men on the poles for the storm, the bugs and anything else they can think of.

I’d gotten the wash done, but didn’t have time to hang it out before I left, so when I got home, I decided to put it in the dryer, rather than risk another downpour. About halfway through supper, I heard a POP, but the dryer was still running, so I figured a belt buckle had hit the inside of the drum.

No such luck. The drive belt had snapped, and we ended up dragging things out to hang them on the line anyway. This means I’ll have clothes on the line two Sundays in a row, (ugh!)  but it is too hot and muggy to leave them in the basket until Monday, unless The Squire wants pink polka dots on his T-shirts.

Well, maybe some rain won’t be too bad. We really do need it, and our next door neighbors have been having weekend karaoke parties than go on until 4 AM, so a downpour/power outage might not be a bad thing.

Never Say Die

28 Jun

My mother is going to be the death of me.

Do us all a favor. Make sure you have a will. I don’t care how little or how much you have – make a will. My mother refused to do so, on the grounds that it was just a money-making scheme dreamed up by “crooked lawyers” (a redundancy in her book) and she was quite certain that a) she was going to die of a heart attack before she was 80, and b) my sister and I would share the money equally. Since she was going to die of a heart attack, there was no reason to have a Power of Attorney or put one of us on the account as a co-signer. Lynn and I had worked out a plan of what we would do, and who would get what, and all seemed to be well.

Except – my mom slipped into dementia and died at 90, never knowing my sister died long before her of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). I had a very difficult time handling her money when she was alive. The nursing home didn’t have a notary, and the banks wouldn’t accept anything she signed because they didn’t know either of us, and she was obviously not in her right mind. Fortunately, I have a cousin who is a lawyer, and he went over with us and had my mom sign the proper papers to give me a POA and the notarized them for us. She’d known Ron all his life, and he introduced himself to her. “You remember me, Aunt Audrey”, and mentioned his parents. She nodded, and signed the papers, and after he left, she turned to me and asked who he was. “Never saw him before in my life, and I don’t know who those people were he was talking about.”

No problems when she died – other than putting her in the wrong grave, of course – but now it is time to close out the estate account and get this project wrapped up. I couldn’t find one of her bank statements, and the folks in Customer Service refused to send it to me, even though my name was on the account as POA. “That died with her, and the fact that you are her personal representative on the estate account no longer has anything to do with the old one.”  I finally drove to the local branch, showed the lady that I had every statement from the last two years, and she said she would try to help me.  She got the same story from Customer Service.

Well, to make a long story short (too late, I know!) the rep who had opened the estate account had not faxed the death certificate or the Personal Rep paperwork. “We’ll just find it and send it out.” So a frantic search of the files ensued. Nothing under my mom’s last name. Cute. And then somebody noticed a huge file in the “E’s”. All of the estate accounts were filed under “E”.  Fortunately, within that folder they were under the last name, and there in the “P’s” was my mom’s paperwork. One of the clerks said it was like the old joke about the blond secretary who filed everything under “T” – The Smith Company, The Roger’s Drugstore.

One more week ought to do it. I hope!

Trying my Patience, Part II

24 Jun

Joppatowne – and the Church of the Resurrection – will be  celebrating their 300th anniversary this year, and big doings are afoot. The men of the parish have been clearing a trail back to what is left of the original harbor, and have cut down several small trees in the process.

I posted an offer on Freecycle. “Firewood: cut to length but not split. Bring your own pickup truck and muscle power.” Fairly straightforward, I thought.

The person I chose – there were several requests – sent an email Saturday afternoon wanting to know if it could be picked up this morning. I replied that it was on church property and would not be available until after 12:00. OK. reasonable enough.

We waited until 1:00, but they didn’t show up, so we taped a note on the fence and came home. There were three email waiting for us, all sent between 9:30 and 10:00

Would they need a power saw or an ax? I replied that is was already cut the length. They could split it at home.  The second email was to ask if the wood would burn, and the third was to ask what kind of wood it was.  I answered each of these, and then said that since we were – obviously – already home, they would have to give us a day and time to meet at the church, as the wood was not accessible without help.

They decided they didn’t want it after all.

With This Ring…

22 Jun

At our usual Wednesday morning knitting meeting day I mentioned the Squire having done something “the other day”. One of the women – not a member of our congregation – looked at me, rather startled. “Oh! I always thought you were widowed.”

“No, very much married – almost forty years.”

“You never wear a ring, and I just assumed…”

Actually, I can understand her confusion, and I wasn’t the least bit offended, but  I do think I’d better start wearing my ring more often!

Two factors are at play here. As you can see, we have very ornate rings, and we have always worried about getting bread dough, paint, wallpaper paste, cement, what-have-you stuck in all those nooks and crannies.  Also, our rings are wider than most, and both the Squire and I are left-handed, which means that using pliers, pruning shears, a butcher knife, etc. makes the ring cut into our fingers. So – mine spends most of the time in my jewelry box.

The Squire’s hands have swollen to the point that he can’t even get his ring on his pinkie, so several years ago he took it to a jeweler to see about getting it resized, and the man quoted him a price of well over $1,000! That was when I got him a sterling ring with a Celtic design on it at the local Renn Fest!

Somebody suggested I wear my ring on my right hand “the way they do in Europe”, except that in America, that is generally a sign that you really are widowed. I don’t think I’m superstitious, but…

Slice and Dice

15 Jun

Yesterday afternoon I made up a batch of bread for sandwiches to take to the “dead spread” after tomorrow’s funeral. Like the carrot cake, this is a recipe I’ve made a zillion times (it’s the Squire’s favorite – dill and onion) but whatever went wrong, this stuff was what my mother called Leaden Breaden. Truly ammo quality.  Not just heavy – it didn’t even taste good.

So – up with the birds this morning to make a second batch, which turned out beautifully. Thanks be to God, as I don’t have time to do this again. Cucumber and cream cheese, with maybe a sprinkle of curry powder.



Life is Uncertain…

12 Jun

Sometimes my off-kilter sense of humor can get me into BIG trouble, but there are days when that is the only way I can cope.

Several weeks ago, our former rector’s wife went into the hospital for some abdominal surgery and ended up with peritonitis. She is currently in a medically induced coma.

A member of the congregation – a young lady we’ll call Angie – is in the same hospital following a nervous breakdown. Her first husband is a real gem, and managed to convince the judge to give him custody of their children “because Angie can’t afford to raise them properly” and then turned around and asked for child support in an amount that would have left her working for him, and living on the street.  Mr Ex is a scientist of some sort for the government and his new wife is a school teacher.  In the meantime, because of the economy, Angie is working at a different place, making less money than she was at the time of the divorce, and Mr Ex has filed for an increase in child support to pay for summer day care. Did I mention his wife is a school teacher – who will presumably  be off during the summer?  No wonder the poor child collapsed. She is convinced they will send her to jail for failure to pay child support, or at the very least, put her picture in the local paper.

Late last week an elderly member of our congregation took a real tumble while she was gardening. She collected the cut limbs and other debris, put away the wheelbarrow and clippers, and then called her son to come and take her to the hospital. She had dislocated her shoulder and broken two ribs, which involved a punctured lung. (They don’t make ’em like that any more!) During the course of treatment, doctors found blood in the sac around her heart, which is Not a Good Thing. Her daughter called a close friend from church to tell her about this, and said she was going to stay home on Sunday. “I am so worried about Mom that I feel sick.”

Sunday afternoon, her husband came in from mowing the lawn to find his wife dead on the kitchen floor, apparently of a heart attack.

And, of course, all of this occurred while Dr J was on vacation on the other side of the country.

…eat dessert first.

Busy Day, Busy Day

10 Jun

“Busy day, busy day.” Back in the days of black and white TV, that was part of a commercial for Jell-O Instant pudding. I can’t remember the rest of it, something about “no time to cook” and the cartoon lady running up and down the stairs.

I got up with the Squire today – very unusual, as our body clocks are set on different schedules. I can’t eat for an hour after I take my Synthroid, so I set the timer and caught up on my email and a couple of blogs I follow while he ate his breakfast and then headed over to church to do Property Warden stuff for the better part of the day.

Tomorrow is the Sunday School picnic, so I made up a double batch of mac and cheese, so I’d be sure to have something to eat. Started off by getting a batch of bread going, and then while that was doing its thing, I got the water boiling, and cut up the cauliflower. My macaroni and cheese contains chunks of cauliflower – obviously – and I use one-third pepper jack and two-thirds sharp cheddar.  Got that all put together, and tried to figure out where to put it in the fridge. It is balanced on top of several pickle jars and a carton of cottage cheese. Be careful when you open the door!

Yesterday, I picked up some rhubarb at the farmer’s market, so I got that diced and mixed with sugar and honey, so the Squire could make his almost world-famous “Rhubarb Wonderfulness” when he got home. (Recipe upon request.) By the time he came home, I had the bread cooling on the counter and the rhubarb mixture in the still-warm oven to draw the juice.

I have no idea what the poor man had for lunch, but we had stripped and made the bed when we got up, so I kissed him Hello and went up to take a nap. When I came down he had the rhubarb ready to bake tomorrow morning, and had run and emptied the dishwasher. Definitely a keeper, that one. Yesterday I had taken down all of the living room curtains – we have five windows in that room – so I shoved them into the back of the car and took them to the laundromat. He helped me get them all on the line when I got home, but they are still out there. I hate having things hanging out on Sundays, but we washed the living room windows and hung the sheers, and by that time we were both dead on our feet, and the “evening dews and damps” have set in, so that’s just the way it’s going to be.

I have just made a rather annoying discovery. I have no idea where WordPress is headquartered, but it is 9:45 on the 9th here, and this post shows up as having been written tomorrow! Tempus fugit, and all that, but trust me, it’s Saturday.

Old Friends – Good Times

7 Jun

Yesterday evening the Squire and I went to the annual gathering of the Equitable Trust Honors Club.

You have to understand that the Equitable Trust Bank was absorbed by Maryland National Bank in 1989, which was in turn taken over by Nationsbank, and now Bank of America. And yet, twenty-three years later, over 130 people gather to remember what is was like to work for a company that treated you like people, like family, not simply “Human Resources”.

We laughed about the branch manager who never saw a pretty lady he didn’t like. A lovely woman walked into his branch with two shoe boxes full of unbalanced statements. He took her into the conference room, spread out the statements, and worked for two hours to reconcile the account. As she was leaving, he said to her, “Now, you understand, Mrs. Jones, this was rather unusual. These statements were from another bank, but I was glad to help you.” Her husband was the CEO of a large Baltimore food business (you’ve heard of them) and he was impressed enough by the treatment received for their personal account that he had the entire company’s business transferred to Equitable.

Or the teller who was approached by a man with a gun, and the demand to “Give me all of your money”. The teller was a War Bride from Germany, used to facing down Nazis with machine guns, and this little man with his puny gun didn’t faze her one bit. “That’s not my window”,  she told him, and kept on walking.

The fellow who refused to admit a customer after the bank had closed for the day, only to discover the “customer” was the president of the bank! The night shift supervisor in the reconciliation department who kept her false teeth in a glass on her desk. If you needed to talk to her, you had to make an appointment!  The young woman who brought in a box of kittens, which she sat beside her desk. By the end of the day, every kitten had found a home. The fellow who climbed into the night deposit box to retrieve a bag that was caught in the “throat”, and the door slammed shut on him.  A customer came in and told the branch manager that the night depository was “making funny noises” and somebody finally realized why Richard had been missing for the last hour!

When the first ATMs came out, known as “Harvey Wallbanker”, the branches that first had them installed had a man dressed in green stationed in the lobby to show customers how they worked.

Romances – licit and otherwise – which blossomed at the bank. The Squire and I met on my first day at work when I managed to pull a file cabinet over on top of myself. He picked up the cabinet, closed all of the drawers, and stuck around to see what would happen next.

It hasn’t been boring!

The Couple Who Came to Dinner

5 Jun

A pair of raccoons have made a nest in a drainage pipe that runs under our back yard. Most evenings they come out to eat the food I put out for the foxes. (They’ve decided that if it’s a case of take it or leave it, they’ll take it.)

I’m only guessing, but judging from the amount of food being consumed, and the casualness with which at least one of the critters is willing to come out to eat, there are probably kits in there. I tried dangling the camera over the hole, but didn’t see anything.

I had just put the dish down the other evening, and a little head popped out. The cat ignores the raccoons completely, but the dog has a fit. I’m not sure if Blazer is saying “Hey! It’s good to see you!” or “What the devil  are you doing in MY back yard?” but we have decided to keep dog inside for the duration.

I settled into the rocker on the patio to see what would happen, and the raccoon came out to chow down. After he (she?) finished eating, it wandered over and sniffed at my toes, then moseyed back down into the drain. Yes, I know raccoons carry rabies, even if they don’t show signs. These two are not aggressive, don’t stagger or walk in circles, and I’ve lived in the country long enough to take precautions.  Other than going barefoot all the time…

Last night, I found one of the animals sitting on its haunches outside the kitchen door, calmly watching and waiting. Startled me, frankly. As soon as I started to open the door, the critter scuttled over to the edge of the patio and waited for me to put down the dish. As I approached he ran off a bit, but then followed me back towards the door, as if to see if there might be a better selection inside.

I stomped my foot – rather ineffectual when you are not wearing shoes – and told him to scoot, which he did. A while later I looked out and saw the pair of them, eating side by side from the dish.  Maggie and Jiggs, out to dinner. (Oh, how old does that reference make me?)

Two Funerals and a Wedding

1 Jun

Last night, the Squire and I went to the service for the twin brother of a fellow from church. Larry was seventy-seven, and had been in ill-health for quite some time (as has his brother) so we were able to truly celebrate his life, and his release from the ills which had plagued him for so long.

Today was another matter entirely. Cody was nineteen, just graduated from school, was enlisting in the Marines, dating a lovely girl – and died very suddenly and unexpectedly. Absolutely every parent’s worst nightmare.

We’ve known Cody’s dad for many, many years. Randy and our middle daughter dated when she was a sophomore and junior in high school, and he worked for – and with – our eldest daughter’s husband. Randy and his son were very close. They did all the father-and-son things you hear about, and the two of them often went hunting and fishing with our son-in-law and grandson.

The funeral parlor was a mob scene. Quiet and respectful, but a mob scene, none the less. Every teen-ager in Harford County, Cody’s teachers, plus a smattering of Marines, and most of the folks from where Randy and Jeff work. The line stretched two abreast from the back door, past the casket, and back out the front door of the visitation room.  I’d estimate easily three hundred people. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of young people who knelt quietly at the bier, said a prayer, crossed themselves, and moved on. One of Cody’s cousins stood by, handing each person a fresh tissue as they stood up. A quiet gesture, but a helpful and compassionate one.

On a much happier note, our local grand-daughter announced she is getting married. We are absolutely delighted, as Steve is a real sweetheart.  We have a time-share, and are offering the kids a place where ever they wish for their honeymoon.